Damaged dental exam room

Calculating the Cost of Medical Office Repairs, Part 2

By Brandon Stokes | Published January 12, 2022

Over the last 40 years, the United States has sustained close to 300 weather and climate disasters exceeding $1 billion in overall damages1. Currently more than 10 billion-dollar disasters take place each year2, and the severity of storms is only expected to increase because of climate change. 

These natural disasters can cause damage to a business in multiple ways. For medical facilities, the damages can be quite costly, especially when expensive and complex equipment is threatened. For each type of damage – whether it be from power failure, water, fire, or the strength of the storm itself – here are some important steps you can take to minimize repair costs. 

Power Failure

An Information Technology Intelligence Consulting (ITIC) survey reported 81% of businesses estimate that one hour of power outage costs them over $300,000 3. Electrical service outages can affect healthcare facilities in large part due to the high-level equipment that relies on power to operate. 

Not only does medical equipment rely on power to function effectively, but the intricate components within the equipment can be easily damaged when power fails or surges. Since the majority of medical equipment works in tandem with other equipment, one breakdown in the chain often leads to another. 

For example, a basic dental x-ray machine sends an image to a digital sensor, which sends the image to the computer system, which transmits it to the crown molding machine, and so on. If one aspect of this system fails, it is likely to render the entire system non-operational. How is one to determine which of the unseen components is to blame? It’s often a challenge to uncover. It requires experts who know where to look and how to test each link in the chain.

Water Damage

According to Zurich, the leading cause of property losses across various facility types is from water damage, and costs can be three times more, on average, than non-water-related damage 4. 

For medical and dental offices, the destruction of medical equipment is one of the most serious consequences of water damage. In the case of hurricanes or large floods, medical equipment may become heavily contaminated with microorganisms such as mold and bacteria. Before a medical office can reopen, all equipment and devices must be inspected and tested for damage. The higher levels of humidity that can accompany tornadoes and hurricanes can also impact the equipment in less visible ways and requires expert cleaning and handling services to minimize long-lasting risk to equipment.

Fire Damage

Non-weather-related fire damage is by far the most impactful exposure when it comes to the effect on medical equipment. But not all fire damage is equal. Like water damage, fire damage can be sneaky. Beyond the obvious destruction by the fire itself, the heat, smoke, and soot can impact equipment or electrical components untouched by the physical flames in a significant way. This can result in corrosion, absorption into porous materials, and damage to internal equipment components hidden from sight. 

A thorough understanding of heat, smoke, and soot impact is required to ensure a quick resolution after fire. If the site is not inspected or cleaned adequately, issues can emerge months later when humidity or warmer weather brings old odor or other issues to the surface.

Catastrophic Storm Damage

Climate change is having a direct impact on the severity of tropical storms, with 4 of the 10 costliest hurricanes on record in the U.S. occurring within the last 5 years 5. When the physical damage to a building from a tornado, hurricane or flood is too great, occupants can be forced to leave the facilities. 

Medical practices are not legally allowed to operate in many of the conditions they are left in following a major storm event. In these situations, high priority items must be managed first to reestablish the practice. Relocation should also be considered and is sometimes the quickest way for practices to see emergency patients again. The right partner can help identify industry resources, find the right facility, and acquire the equipment needed to return to operations as fast as possible. 

For more best practices for estimating repairs for dental and medical offices, contact Brandon Stokes and RMC Group’s Specialized Healthcare Consulting division.

1 NOAA National Centers for Environmental InformationU.S. Billion-Dollar Weather & Climate Disasters 1980-2021,” 2021.
2 Climate.gov “2010-2019: A landmark decade of U.S. billion-dollar weather and climate disasters,” Oct. 3, 2021.
3 Mapware “How Much Does a Service Outage Really Cost an Electric Company?” April 15, 2019. 
4 Zurich “Leading cause of property loss for real estate owners and managers is water damage,” June 1, 2021.
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions “Hurricanes and Climate Change